Many movies may aspire to cult status, but only a few can slither right in and stake an unquestionable claim. The 1973 French/Czechoslovakian animated film Fantastic Planet, thankfully, is absolutely one of the latter. A Grand Prix winner at Cannes (and originally brought to American theaters by legendary king of schlock Roger Corman), its combination of seriously trippy illustrations and groovy jazz-porny musical score creates a stunning, vividly potent sensation. Once it hits your brain, it’s there to stay.

Adapting a heavily allegorical novel by Stefan Wul, the story posits a far-out world of the future where naked humans known as Oms are either kept as pets or systematically exterminated by the giant blue fish-type creatures called Draags. After a young male Om escapes captivity with a Draag learning machine, the damndest rebellion imaginable is hatched. There’s a bit more, but any attempt at summarizing the plot feels inadequate, really, when compared to the sheer visual thrum on constant display.

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The scallop-eared, crimson-eyed Draags are striking enough to behold, but the level of invention only starts there: Virtually every shot has something newly great and terrible to gawk at, often never to be glimpsed again. (Personal favorite: That completely horrid, chortling turnip/elephant thing.) The striking cutout animation style may share some similarities with the earlier Yellow Submarine, but the mind-croggling vibe is uniquely its own.

Loopy as Fantastic Planet’s imagery gets, though, director René Laloux and his team nevertheless maintain an interior logic that somehow keeps everything of a piece. The end result is that rarest kind of fantasy film: One that blessedly never pauses to explain or apologize for its bizarre flights of fancy. Yes, the Om Chief is wearing what appears to be a pregnant one-eyed squid on his head, and what of it? recommended

Fantastic Planet plays at the Grand Illusion on August 20 and 25.

Annual Seattle Erotic Art Festival and Halloween party returns to Seattle Center October 29 –31!
A weekend of art, performance, readings, & more! Festival ends at Seattle's sexiest Halloween party.